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You are here: Home > Publications > Political Philosophy and Political Reform in China

Political Philosophy and Political Reform in China

William Arthurs, 22 January 2009

start of section 3 of China's Charter 08

We are delighted to be able to reproduce "The Debates between Liberalism and the New Left in China since the 1990s" [English-language PDF: 223k] by Xu Youyu, Professor of Philosophy, The Institute of Philosophy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This article originally appeared in Nicholas Bunnin and Yang Xiao, guest editors, 'Political Philosophy and Political Reform: Liberalism and the New Left', Contemporary Chinese Thought (Spring 2003).

Professor Xu's article is not only important in its own right, but also provides background to the position of Charter 08, which was launched in China last year in emulation of Czechoslovakia's Charter 77. Charter 08 calls for an end to one-party-rule and its replacement by a system based on democracy, popular sovereignty, the separation of powers, and human rights. Professor Xu signed Charter 08 and is now under pressure from the authorities to remove his name.

This article reviews contemporary debates within China about globalisation, capitalism, freedom of thought, and China's relationship to the West. Is a system of "authoritarian capitalism" sustainable? Are economic and social problems within China caused by the market economy itself, or by the failure sufficiently to underpin the economy with an institutional framework that protects private property and freedom of contract? At a time when many people around the world are questioning the strength of global capitalism, we offer Professor Xu's article as a contribution to these debates.

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